Dur Dur Band - Volume 5 (4 stars)

Dur Dur Band - Volume 5

Heady Arab-inflected melodies on gem of 1980s Somalian pop

(Awesome Tapes from Africa)

Following last year's brilliant album from Ghana’s Bola, the redoubtable Awesome Tapes from Africa have uncovered this gem of 1980s Somalian pop. Recorded in 1987, Dur Dur Band's Volume 5 gives a tantalising flavour of Mogadishu's vibrant music scene before the country destabilised in 1991.

Their sound is immediately striking, combining the hot dance rhythms of contemporary African pop and American R&B with the modal melodies of traditional Somali folk and the otherworldly sounds drifting over from the Middle East. The slinky electric guitars, simmering organs and heavy grooves of 'Tajir Waa Ilaah' and 'Amiina Awday' are incontestable evidence that Dur Dur had the funk.

But Sahra Dawo's incredible vocals are something else, taking us from the Horn of Africa to outer space, her heady Arab-inflected melodies drenched in the kind of psychedelic echo and reverb which helped make those 1970s Ethiopiques recordings so magical. Awesome stuff indeed.

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